CUTS Africa Resource Centre (CUTS ARC), Lusaka, in conjunction with Organisation Development and Community Management Trust (ODCMT) hosted a national consultative dialogue on the Linkages between Trade Development and Poverty Reduction (TDP) in Lusaka, Zambia, on September 19, 2006.
The objectives of the dialogue were to:
facilitate cross-fertilisation of experiences and lessons learnt on linkages between trade, development and poverty reduction in the developing countries;
strengthen the ability of developing countries through the provision of policy support and other know-how and do-how on trade and development issues;
facilitate synergy between governments and civil society organisations (CSOs) to strengthen collective perspectives and positions; and
advocate development-oriented trade policies, based on learning from research and other activities, by taking into account the interests and priorities (needs and aspirations) of the poor and marginalised sections of the society and look into the aspects of policy coherence.
One of the recommendations that emerged from the dialogue was that trade liberalisation was rushed in the Zambian case. Closing down of many local industries has been due to opening of the market to imports and stiff domestic competition. Since liberalisation, the Zambian economy has been experiencing increasing hardship. More firms have closed as compared to the new ones have been established, unemployment has increased and so has the gap between the rich and the poor. In general, poverty has increased. There is need for a more cautious approach when signing international trade protocols. Further, it was voiced that Zambia must reassess gains from trade arrangements already signed. The Government must provide better direction and support to the business community to hasten the adjustment process. In order for trade liberalisation to benefit the poor, there is a great need to establish coherence between liberalisation initiatives and national development policies/plans/strategies.